The hockey media’s curious love affair with Chris Drury

What, exactly, has Chris Drury done to cause so much of the hockey media elite to swoon like high school girls over their prom dates? Do we all love former Little League stars that much? Has the mainstream media’s obsession with “clutch” scoring bubbled over into insanity?

The funny thing is that Puck Daddy’s absurd Marleau for Drury fake trade proposal wasn’t even the original reason this post came to mind. Here’s what actually stuck in my craw (from John Buccigross’s mailbag last week):

Dear John,

Do you think the Buffalo Sabres will ever win a Stanley Cup? If so, what’s it going to take?

Scott
Virginia

Personally, I don’t like the mix of personalities on the Sabres’ roster right now. Perhaps some players will mature quickly into serious and committed professionals and give the rest of the team a lift. The Sabres give off the vibe of a boorish frat party at times. Buffalo gave a lot of money to Jason Pominville and Derek Roy. Pominville’s contract goes to $5.3 million next season! He had 20 goals in 2008-09. He has to score 35 to 45 at that cap number. These high-paid, young players have to be the most committed and mature players on the team along with Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller. That’s how they will make the leap to an upper 90-point team.

What they lost in Daniel Briere and Chris Drury was so much leadership and direction. The young players have not stepped up to fill the void. They also are not tough enough. They need more tough players or they need to have their current players play tougher. Ryan Miller seems like a consummate professional and his injury really did hurt the Sabres. I’ve written in this space for much of the season that Buffalo would be a great market for Jay Bouwmeester; a small, passionate hockey market. Plus, the Sabres need help on the blue line.

So, by Bucci’s standards Pominville is an albatross. Then what does that make “hockey god” Drury?

It’s stunning that Buccigross (who I generally like, although his Mike Myers/music referencing/lazy Hakan Loob humor is getting repetitive enough to be its own drinking game) follows the Pominville bashing by mentioning Drury and Briere, aka the guys who signed the worst contracts of the post-lockout era.

C’mon, Bucci, that’s like deriding fake breasts and then making a segue to Pam Anderson‘s run on Baywatch.

With all this in mind, let’s take a look at what Drury (god) and Pominville (CANCER!!!111) have done since Drury signed his Rangers-killing contract:

Chris Drury

OK!! OK!! We GET it! He was in the Little League World Series! Uggggh.

2007-08 season: (82 GP: 25 goals, 33 assists for 58 points, -3 rating, 7 GWG)
2007-08 playoffs (10 GP: 3 goals, 3 assists for 6 points, +3 rating, 1 GWG)
2008-09 season: (81 GP: 22 goals, 34 assists for 56 points, -8 rating, 2 GWG)
2008-09 playoffs (6 GP: 1 goal, 0 assists for 1 point, -5 rating, 1 GWG)
Overall: 51 goals, 70 assists for 121 points in 179 games or about $117,000 per point ($14.2 million cap hit for two seasons).

Stereotypical Mainstream … “Expert” response: B-B-BUT HE’S GOT A FUCKTON OF INTANGIBLES!!!

Jason Pominville

2007-08 season: (82 GP: 27 goals, 53 assists for 80 points, +16 rating, 1 GWG)
No playoffs
2008-09 season: (82 GP: 20 goals, 46 assists for 66 points, -4 rating, 2 GWG)
No playoffs

Overall: 47 goals, 99 assists for 146 points in 164 games. Even though he hasn’t started his supposedly misguided next contract yet, he would be receiving a little more than $36,000 per point if he scored at that two-season pace under his next contract.

Stereotypical Mainstream … “Expert” response: B-B-BUT HE NEVER STOMPS AROUND THE LOCKER ROOM AFTER A LOSS!!! No “Any Given Sunday” speeches. You can’t put a price on that (spits while screaming)!

They both signed ludicrous deals, but only Briere is PhotoShopped as a pregnant woman.

OK, there’s no doubt that Bucci likes Drury personally. Maybe at some point, Bucci was doing post-champagne interviews when the Colorado Avalanche won a Cup and they simultaneously made a tired Mike Myers joke … locked eyes … and it was hockey love forever. But, c’mon Bucci, Pominville is producing more points in less games for less money than Drury. Derek Roy also produced 151 points in the last two seasons, so you cannot really get much wiggle room there either.

The funny thing about the Sabres is that they are damned by the correct decision they made to allow Daniel Briere and Chris Drury to go. Both players have been roundly panned for having contracts that were very optimistic regarding the two of them continuing to be successful into their mid-to-late 30’s.

No one hesitates to butcher Briere and it’s easy to see why. But it boggles my mind that hockey media members aren’t comparing Drury’s contract to the all-time worst ones.

Sorry, everyone, but Drury’s contract might just be “Yashin bad.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Drury is a bad player. No doubt, the guy has an uncanny knack for scoring pivotal goals, he’s a very good faceoff guy and plays with plenty of heart. It just seems amazing that a nice complimentary player can get this sort of obscene praise.

He started off as an over-qualified depth player who had great success because opposing teams had to worry about Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg, then he floundered in Calgary. His best run might have been in Buffalo, but that team worked so well because they had a seemingly un-ending group of forwards who could score by committee. He didn’t have to be “the man” so he thrived.

Now he’s in New York, a team rendered completely dependent on Henrik Lundqvist since they put their superstar money in solid/second line/awful players like Wade Redden, Scott Gomez and Michal Rosival. This team will have a second round ceiling for the rest of Drury’s stay, barring miraculous goaltending from Lundqvist.

Let’s cut the crap. Drury is the second coming of Bobby Holik – a nice enough player who can fill a role but somehow became worthy of a GIGANTIC contract in MSG land. (To be fair, though, he at least doesn’t look like a neanderthal.)

So, I give up. You tell me. What makes Drury so good? How far can intangibles and likeability take one person? Maybe there’s something I’m missing … something only an “expert” can see.

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